Underfloor Air Distribution (UFAD) Solutions

Beautiful and Healthy HVAC that easily adapts to your architectural vision.


What Is Underfloor Air Distribution?

UFAD (underfloor air distribution) is an innovative air distribution approach that is growing in popularity amongst commercial architects and mechanical engineers. Because of its improved air quality, cost-effectiveness, design flexibility and energy efficiency, it is quickly becoming a preferred solution for heating and cooling office buildings — for both new constructions, and renovations.

Unlike overhead VAV systems, underfloor air distribution systems are designed to work with the laws of physics — not against them. In a UFAD system, conditioned air is supplied through floor diffusers instead of ceiling diffusers.

Seamless underfloor air distribution

Compact, column-style air-handling units to deliver air for raised access systems.

High capacity airflow without restricting underfloor volume.

Intelligent air delivery control for underfloor air distribution projects.

Simple and efficient perimeter heating and cooling solutions.

Fan terminal units with VAV displacement for underfloor systems.

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UFAD Technology Has Changes In The Last 25 Years

UFAD emerged as a commercially viable solution in the mid 1990s.  Much like the first cellphone ever released, UFAD’s first iteration was a far cry from the advancement we see today.

Initial UFAD solutions were expensive to build, complicated to design, and difficult to innovate.

Nowadays, UFAD has become the go-to solution for forward-thinking architects and developers looking to increase the value of their spaces. UFAD combined with modern raised floors can reduce floor height to as low as 8″ — making underfloor air an obvious choice.

Here’s what changed:

  • Air Distribution
  • Perimeter Cooling
  • Interior VAV
  • Raised Floor Height

Curious About UFAD?

Book a FREE PDH & AIA accredited workshop at your office.

Fundamental Problems
With Overhead HVAC Systems

Overhead HVAC is fundamentally flawed. It’s more expensive, less efficient, and completely inflexible. And it’s remained virtually unchanged since the advent of the commercial HVAC industry in the 1950s.

But for professionals who’ve never seen a viable alternative, its shortcomings may not be very apparent. These are the main issues plaguing traditional HVAC systems:

It takes engineering firms ~30% more total labor hours to design an overhead HVAC system because of complicated duct designs.

Why does this matter?

By switching to UFAD, engineering firms can see up to an 80% reduction in BIM detailing, and up to 30% less mechanical design time — shortening their project timelines.

Working at ceiling elevation requires additional effort, more labour hours, specialized machinery, ladders.

Why does this matter?

Overhead system installation takes 10 – 15% more time than underfloor systems, unnecessarily increasing budgets, creating safety risks during construction, and delaying timelines.

Reconfiguring and maintaining ductwork in the ceiling is more expensive, intrusive, and time-consuming.

Why does this matter?

Beyond the high costs of maintaining overhead systems, maintenance is intrusive and can cause major interruptions to tenants.

Overhead HVAC needs more energy to warm and cool occupants.

Why does this matter?

Traditional HVAC systems use 30% more fan energy than UFAD, and provide less thermal comfort for occupants.

Overhead systems circulate air for a longer period of time, keeping pollutants and particulate matter around longer.

Why does this matter?

This has a negative impact on indoor air quality (IAQ). Because UFAD pushes air up and out of the occupant’s space, it improves IAQ considerably.

Cables often run through the ceiling and goes into the floor above.

Why does this matter?

Accessing electrical wiring in an overhead system often requires making holes in the floor, potentially disrupting multiple tenants on different floors.

There’s no way around this; mechanical systems hanging from the ceiling are plain unattractive.

Why does this matter?

From suspended ceiling tiles covering every square foot of your building, to extensive architectural ceilings — developers can spend upwards of $780,000 just to cover up mechanical systems in a 20,000 square foot building.


“The U.S. commercial construction industry – where incredible resources get poured into designing and constructing the most complex and sophisticated buildings in the world, has stunningly been slow to adopt basic changes to mechanical system design, the way buildings are heated and cooled, that are backed up by analytics and success in most every type of building and in most all major markets across the US “.

If UFAD systems were available as a design alternative when commercial HVAC systems were first introduced in the 1950s, it would have been the standard. And anyone that tried selling overhead systems wouldn’t be able to make a living.

Quick Comparison:
UFAD Vs. Overhead VAV & VRF

UFAD delivers massive cost-savings compared to overhead systems — from construction all the way through to the HVAC system’s life-cycle.

Air Quality

UFAD results in less cross-contamination of air between occupants, compared to traditional HVAC


UFAD takes 10-15% less time to install, resulting in faster tenant occupancy


UFAD requires 80% less time to detail in BIM

Mechanical Spaces

UFAD can help you reclaim up to 10% of the square footage lost to mechanical spaces

Building Value

A 12-floor building with an overhead system will be the same height as a 13-floor building with UFAD. This can increase your building value by 9.3% or more

Installation Costs

UFAD uses less materials and special equipment for installation

Energy Usage/OA Requirements

UFAD saves up to 30% in fan energy use and requires 20% less OA than conventional overhead VAV

Floor Heights

For every 12 standard floors, UFAD can free up enough vertical space to add an additional floor to your building


UFAD mechanical systems are hidden out of sight beneath raised floors, allowing them to adapt to any building design

Exelon-5_e2-open floor

Is UFAD Compatible
With My Project?

AirFixture has successfully implemented UFAD on 1,263 projects in more than 30 countries. UFAD systems comply with virtually all building codes around the world.

UFAD is compatible with all following standards:

Building codes

  • ASHRAE Standards
  • National Fire Code
  • Structural
  • State & Municipal Codes
  • International Building Codes (100+ countries)
  • BIM (Building Information Modeling)

Compatible Design Trends

  • High Ceilings
  • Open / Exposed Ceilings
  • Mass Timber Constructions
  • Open Office Spaces
  • Sustainable Design

Construction Trades

Your existing MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) contractors would be responsible commissioning, installing, and configuring of all UFAD systems — including raised access floors.

This eliminates the risk of bringing on additional contractors and ensures continuity from installation to maintenance of your mechanical systems.


Want to see the difference for yourself?
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